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Understanding Office 365: Integrated Communication Tools with Lync Online

Microsoft Office 365 Lync Online

This article represents the last part in Sea to Sky Network Solutions’ blog series on “Understanding Office 365.” Over the past month, we have looked at how Exchange Online helps a SMB manage, and retain, company emails and discussed the advantages of SharePoint Online as a cost effective file sharing and collaboration tool. However, there is one more piece of the puzzle; Lync Online. As with Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, Lync Online began its existence as a server-based solution with extremely high IT management costs. These costs created a barrier to entry into the SMB online communication market. Microsoft recognized the value Lync could bring to SMBs and created Lync Online. Lync Online in Office 365 allows a business to hold an online meeting with 250+ users, if necessary, while viewing video, audio and content. It is a very exciting solution with capabilities ready for the future. In fact, Lync Online is actively utilized by the team at Sea to Sky Network Solutions; here is a good example of how we use Office 365 and Lync Online:

Use Case Scenario:

My business partner was out of town and I needed to review a client’s contract with him. Even though the person I wanted to speak to was on vacation, I noticed he was online and available in Outlook – Lync integrates with Outlook by adding a ‘presence icon’ which tells the sender if the person they wish to reach is available (green), busy (red) or away (yellow) – so I initiated a chat session. Once he answered, we were instantly connected via audio, video and screen sharing. While there are several services similar to Lync Online, they will never be as integrated of a solution with the Office software suite, after all Microsoft is the developer of both pieces of software. Additionally, Lync is centrally managed by the company and all features and settings are delegated to user, rather than the user delegating to the company.

I pulled up the document on my computer, I invited my business partner to view the Microsoft Word file, and gave him full control over editing the document which is store locally on my machine. Editing a single copy of a file reduces the likelihood of losing and changes when compared to a file being sent back and forth via email. We discussed what needed to be updated and I watched as he made the necessary changes. I give him my input and we quickly finalized the contract. Lync allowed us both to ask and answer questions in a live environment. The entire process took minutes instead of hours. In fact, we were able to go from issue to resolution in about 15 minutes; how is that for efficiency!

Lync Online allows a company to retain full control over their internal, and external, communications in an environment that is familiar, easy to use and understood by anyone who uses Microsoft Office. Lync Online is bundled into Office 365’s E series of plans, which include Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.

Lync includes features, such as:

– Connect with others through instant messaging (IM), video calls and online meetings.
– Move easily from instant messaging into ad-hoc online meetings that include audio, video, and screen sharing with just a few mouse clicks.
– Conduct online presentations to customers and colleagues including audio, video, screen sharing, and a virtual whiteboard.
– Invite external contacts to easily join online meetings through a native or web-based client.
– View presence status and click to communicate from within Microsoft Outlook, Office SharePoint, and other Office applications.
– Communicate with external organizations running Lync using IM, audio and video through Lync federation.
– Connect with Windows Live Messenger contacts using IM, audio and video calls directly from Lync**.
– Reply to an email with an instant message or an audio call for quicker and more effective resolution of issues.

There is so much more to this great product. If you want to learn more about Lync Online, Office 365 or any other Microsoft product, please contact a Sea to Sky team member at info@seatosky.com or 604.628.6970.

– Sea to Sky Team

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